Sports recruitment big unknown

Full year rolls by with limited opportunities


Esther Premazzi

Monte Vista High School students jog during recent Monte Vista tryouts for tennis.

As the school year presses on, there is concern about what sports seasons Monte Vista High School will be holding this year, and how that has impacted college recruiting.

College coaches have not been able to recruit any high school athletes and will not be able to until at least mid-April for major sports because of the pandemic shutdown of campuses. This means that athletes lost a full year during which time they could have been recruited. 

“Colleges can recruit and verbally commit whoever they want, but verbal commitments mean absolutely nothing until it’s signed, and they cannot officially recruit off campus,” said Mateo Miramontes, Monte Vista High School varsity baseball coach. 

Not only have athletes missed a year of opportunities for getting recruited, but they have also lost a year of games, practices, and training. 

“Kids have missed out on nearly 90 games in the past year along with thousands of repetitions,” Miramontes said. “So kids definitely have to worry more about getting recruited since their skills may have gone down in the past year.”

Some student athletes have continued to practice on their own by working out or playing with their friends, but it does not compare to playing actual games with a team. 

“Hitting in a cage will never compare to actual game repetitions,” Miramontes said.     

Not having a sports season makes it a lot harder for college scouts to notice and recruit an athlete when they cannot watch the athlete play or meet them in person.  

“We reach out to colleges and send in videos when we can, but without any actual action, it’s hard,” Miramontes said.

High school seniors also have to compete with current college athletes who received a full year of eligibility back. That means colleges aren’t looking at recruiting the class of 2020 and 2021 as extensively because they are allowing the class of 2019 to play. 

“A college coach would choose the 21-year-old sophomore over the 18-year-old high school senior since the 21-year-old is more developed,” Miramontes said. 

California student athletes may be at a disadvantage because most of the state’s high schools didn’t have sports seasons while other states did. 

“Most college rosters are already full for the 2021 class since [most] other states had their seasons,” said Riley Furlong, a senior on the Monte Vista’s varsity football team.

In addition to the recruitment issue, many players are worried about simply having a sports season. 

The East Bay Athletic League (EBAL) sets the rules for when sports can practice and then play in Contra Costa County. Last December, sports were put into categories according to the state’s four-tiered color-coded system that tracks counties by the number of COVID-19 cases. The sports with the most contact were placed in the more restrictive tiers. 

Contra Costa ended its lockdown in mid-January, and some purple-tier sports began playing in competition in early February.  That included swim and dive, cross country, golf, and tennis. Track and field is now set to start its season Mar. 22. 

On Feb. 19, the state Department of Public Health announced that high school football and other outdoor sports could resume if their county’s per-capita case rate was fewer than 14 per 100,000 residents, according to media reports. Contra Costa, which is in the purple tier, still doesn’t meet that benchmark. 

Once the red tier is reached, sports such as baseball, softball, and girls lacrosse would be able to begin their seasons provided Contra Costa doesn’t impose stricter measures than the state. 

“I don’t know if we will be able to have all of our sports, but I’m more confident that at least some of our student-athletes will be able to put a uniform on and play the sport they love,” said Andy Popper, Monte Vista’s athletic director. 

Furlong added,  “I’m happy that people who have not been able to have the opportunity to play their sport will be able to now because sports definitely help with positive mental health.”

This story was originally written for The Stampede, the student newspaper of Monte Vista High School in Danville.